One of our allies has started the new year with executions. Saudi Arabia with whom we signed a secret deal with over human rights council place, has executed 47 people including Shiekh Al-Nimr whose only crime was to speak out on behalf of the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia who are constantly persecuted and oppressed by the ruling Salafi-Wahhabi regime. Although Al-Qaida terrorists are also amongst those executed, Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme is right when he says, “the killing of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in particular suggests they are also using the death penalty in the name of counter-terror to settle scores and crush dissidents”. According to Amnesty International, Al-Nimr was “was convicted after a political and grossly unfair trial at the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC)”.
As a libertarian, the two-faced, hypocritical character of our foreign policy comes as no surprise. Politicians are self-interested with their own goals and only purport to be our representatives. If it is to their advantage to stand in the face of oppression, they would do so but if it is against their interest they would not. That is precisely why we are allied with dictatorships and oppressors such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain and turn a blind eye to their tyranny and continue to cooperate with them.
When pressed by Jon Snow to talk about the deal with Saudi, David Cameron attempted to dodge the question before stating that Saudi provides us with information that keeps us safe. Jon Snow correctly pointed out that Saudi is actually fuelling terrorism to which David Cameron laughably replied, “Saudi Arabia itself actually has quite a good record of de-radicalising people who have become radical terrorists and jihadists”. Politics does not get better than this! Saudi Arabia’s strategy in countering terrorism reflects its PR strategy in the recent executions; they chuck in some terrorists in the mix with people they want to actually kill to acquit themselves from injustice whilst portraying themselves as those who fight terrorism. Similarly, they donate $100 million to fund counterterrorism so they and their allies such as Mr. Cameron have something to say in their defence but go on to fund terrorism all over the world. As Jon Snow correctly pointed out, any actual counterterrorism effort by Saudi Arabia is over threats of internal security. This all notwithstanding the fact that radical Islam is exclusive to Salafi-Wahhabi ideology exported by Saudi Arabia.
Shiekh Al-Nimr’s stand against the oppressive state is something all libertarians can draw inspiration from even if they don’t agree with his religious or political views. He was arrested and beaten by the Saudi police before his final arrest and was not scared of death if that was the price he had to pay for his liberty. In a lecture recorded before his final arrest he powerfully stated:
Not by violence, but by our determination, by our belief, and by our steadfastness, shall your power be defeated. We have the determination to persist your injustice, and we will never surrender. The most you can do is kill us, and we welcome martyrdom for the sake of Allah. Life does not end when a man dies. Real life begins when he dies. Either we live on this land as free men, or die and be buried in it as pious men! We have no other choice!
The jihad (struggle) of this Muslim and his martyrdom is very different to the Muslims seen on TV. This man struggled for his liberties and believed martyrdom for the sake of Allah can be sought in fighting peacefully for justice and freedom. Perhaps with the fall of the state funded salafi-wahhabi movement, we will see more Muslims like Shiekh Al-Nimr.
The state once again has shown its inferiority to civil society with the Saudi Family who have named a country after themselves, the likes of Cameron and Obama on one hand and the likes of Sheikh Al-Nimr on the other.
These events give me further conviction in my opinion on the correct libertarian foreign policy